REMINDER: FLO ORIENTEERING EVENT AT LAKE LOUISA STATE PARK
SATURDAY JAN 14!
Weather Advisory: A cold front will move through the central FL area Friday. This will clear to sunny weather for our event Saturday, but will leave cold turbulent air in its wake. The forecast is for temps in the 40's in the morning with an afternoon high in the low to mid 50's. In addition, winds out of the NW 10-15 mph are expected. This will make for a chilly day outside, perfect for a brisk run, but be sure to pull your winter layers, hats, wool socks, and gloves out of the closet and dress for the expected weather. A thermos of hot chocolate would not go amiss either. ;-)
Hope to see you Saturday!
Registration opens about 9:00 AM, first starts at 9:30 AM
All courses close at 2:00 PM
Gaither HS will be hosting
Starts will most likely begin at 0900 (more detailed info later)
We expect all JROTC units to have pre-registered
Welcome back to live orienteering - the sport for a lifetime! This month we are returning to Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont. This is a great park for orienteering, with numerous amenities for visitors to enjoy, including horseback riding, paddling, and beach-lounging. We'll be staging at the beach parking area, so feel free to pack your swimwear or perhaps your canoe, kayak, or SUP for a relaxing cool-down on the lake after your course!
This event will have both civilian orienteering and also a standard JROTC competition. A variety of courses will be offered from beginner to advanced (see course list below).
Enter through the main entrance to the park on US 27, then follow the paved road and signs to the "beach".
Park Entrance: ///werewolf.upward.benched
Note that the park entrance now has a stoplight added, which is good for us as it makes both arrival and especially departure safer than in the past.
Pay your park entrance fee at the ranger station just up the hill from the entrance gate:
$4 per a single-occupant vehicle, $6 per vehicle for 2-8 people. Park personnel will collect this fee at the ranger station at the park entrance.
Once inside the park, you can find the beach parking area at what3words address
Beach Parking Area: ///hamster.bakery.matting
Park Web Site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/parks-and-trails/lake-louisa-state-park
Lake Louisa State Park contains a wide variety of beautiful Florida habitats. Open rolling hills predominate near the park entrance, but those hills flatten out into lowland forest, palmetto prairies, and wetlands as you go NE toward the big lakes. These lowland areas are occasionally broken up with higher-elevation open areas, which also make for good O-running. A primary stream called Big Creek runs S to N through the main part of the park to empty into Lake Louisa. This creek is too wide to jump and too deep to wade, so it forms a boundary between the western and eastern portions of the event area, which can only be crossed at a few bridge locations. Most runners and courses will be on the west side of Big Creek along with the Start/Finish area. Longer more advanced courses have some controls on the east side, which will require some route planning. You will have many opportunities to hone your route choice skills.
As with our last event at Wekiwa Springs, the aftermath of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole have left most of the park's ponds, streams, and swamps higher than typical for this time of year. The map has been adjusted in the course areas to reflect this, but pay close attention as any rain we have this week may extend the water farther than mapped. The courses have been designed so that you should be able to stay feet-dry if you're careful, but be watchful for water if you try any "custom shortcuts". ;-)
Keep your eyes peeled for deer, turkeys, and other wildlife. Waterbirds are plentiful around the lakes. Spooked me a couple of bunnies while vetting and mapping, so watch for those as well. Look down frequently to watch for gopher tortoise burrows, which are plentiful in the open sandy areas, and are sometimes quite large (watch for the "aprons" of sand around the entrances, and try to stay off them).
We're into the Florida "winter" season now, so some of the off-trail underbrush has died down a bit. There are still occasional vines and briars to keep you on your toes however, and some areas of tall grass. We recommend that you wear leg protection (jeans or gaiters) to prevent scratches if you're going to do an intermediate or advanced course which will see you spending time tromping through the terrain off-trail. Mosquitoes are still around, particularly in the areas close to water (swampy areas extend out from most bodies of water here), so repellent is still a good idea.
We have done some map updating here using modern digital mapping methods. Not a complete re-draw, but a significant update, particularly in the areas around the controls. USGS just released a brand new hi-res Lidar dataset for the area though, so we have the data for a full digital re-draw, perhaps for next year.
Be aware that this is a popular park and others will be enjoying it as well while we are there. The Lake Louisa Beach area where we will be staging is quite popular, and some guests will also be making use of the same hiking trails we will be on. Always be courteous to other park patrons - respect their space, smile, and say hello. Be aware that there will be families with children present. Always remember that your conduct reflects on FLO, your unit, and your school. Let's keep all our reputations spotless!
THIS IS NEW AND EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ!
As some of you may have heard, we got into some trouble at Wekiwa Springs recently because some runners unknowingly violated one of the OB (Out of Bounds) areas. Most maps contain at least some OB areas marked by swatches of purple cross-hatch (see below). These indicate areas of private property, campgrounds, staff-use-only and habitat-restoration areas, and occasionally, hazards that we want to keep people away from. Treat all such areas as if they were fenced off and do not enter. Courses are typically designed to avoid such areas, but occasionally you might be tempted to "short-cut" through an OB area. DON'T! Our current and future welcome from park personnel depends on us obeying their rules, so please help us maintain our good standing.
OB areas come in 2 similar flavors: ON-TRAIL ONLY and NO ENTRY PERIOD:
When in doubt - STAY OUT. It's not worth getting yelled at or getting the whole event in trouble.
- If a trail or road shows through the purple cross-hatch pattern, then on-trail movement is allowed BUT YOU MAY NOT STEP OFF THE TRAIL! Campgrounds and habitat-restoration areas usually fall into this category.
- If the pattern covers a trail, then you're not allowed in EVEN ON THE TRAIL. This is typical for private property, hazards, and staff-only areas. NEVER GO PAST A SIGN READING "PRIVATE", "STAFF ONLY", OR ANY SIMILAR VERBIAGE!
NOTE: If you should stray into an OB area without realizing it and get caught there by an authority, the worst thing you can do is be defensive or defiant. That will virtually guarantee an angry complaint. Be courteous and apologetic. If you don't know where you are, ask for help getting out and back where you're supposed to be. Even if they don't know how to help you, the act of politely asking can defuse the situation.
Occasionally, we simply have no alternative but to use a legal trail to pass through an OB area. In such a case:
SUMMARY OF COURSES
- The normally-straight purple course line on the map may be bent to indicate the mandatory trail route through the OB.
- On the clue sheet/inset on the map, we add a "mandatory route" symbol between the appropriate controls to indicate that a mandatory route exists. Be wary and watch the map.
- Often in such situations, we will add a control on the mandatory route to force you onto that route. This routing control is just like any other on your course, so don't forget to punch it!
Note that the course lengths mentioned above are measured straight-line from point to point to point. Your actual route on the ground will often be on more winding trails or diverted around obstacles like ponds or dense tickets, so your actual distance traveled will often be 25-50% longer than the stated course length.
- Yellow M/F - for beginners. Course is mostly on trails with control points a short distance into the woods. There may be opportunities for those who feel able to take short cuts through the woods. Length 3.8 km.
- Orange M/F - intermediate difficulty. Mix of on- trail and off-trail, generally relying on the more obvious mapped features. Length 5.2 km.
- Green M/F - advanced course off trail and reliant on the subtler features of the terrain. Length 6.7 km
- Blue - the long advanced course. Length 8.6 km.
- Violet - extra-long course tailored for adventure racers. Length 12.1 km.
If you are new and/or unsure of which course is right for you, ask us at registration and we will be happy to advise you. Precise course lengths will be on display at registration to give you an idea of how far you'll be travelling to complete a course. When in doubt, choose an easier course. If you complete that one too fast and haven't had enough fun yet, you can trade up to the next harder map and go out again!
As usual, there is a 3 hour time limit on all FLO courses, and at this event all courses close at 2:00 pm (1400 hours).
Safety Bearing: The easiest way to get back to the Finish from anywhere on the map is to follow the 1 paved road through the park which leads right to it. This road runs basically N-S through the event area, so you just need to keep track of which side of the road you're on and use a safety bearing of east or west accordingly to get to the pavement. The courses go back and forth across this road, so you'll know both from that and the map which side you're on. Once you get to the paved road, just follow it north to get back.
Typical FLO registration fees are in effect: $7 per Map for FLO members, $9 per Map for non-members and $6 per Map for Groups such as JROTC and Scouts whose leaders register, and pay for, all their groups at once (this group rate minimizes the crowd and the confusion at the registration table and is well worth the discount to FLO registration volunteers!).
We hope you all enjoy the day and this lovely venue. Thanks for coming out, and Bring A Friend!
Smartphone prep for orienteering participants:
For safety and event management reasons, we strongly suggest all participants and support staff get the following 2 apps installed and set up on their phones prior to coming to the orienteering event:
Incredibly useful app for conveying precise locations anywhere in the world using a 3-word address. Such addresses can be easily communicated via voice or text message, and can be fed into navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps to obtain turn-by-turn directions to the corresponding locations.
W3W Elevator pitch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNp-divt_50
We use this app for:
App for recording your GPS track during your course which will overlay on your map when you're done. Allows us to track real-time runner locations during the event for safety and operational risk management. Review and debriefing based on the recorded tracks is also one of the best ways to train!
How to install and set up the app: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OY8nzr6prk
SAFETY BEST PRACTICES:
- Check the weather before coming and bring appropriate clothing. This includes layers during colder weather, cool moisture-wicking clothing in hotter months, and a waterproof jacket or poncho if rain is a possibility (FLO events run rain or shine!).
- We recommend wearing supportive shoes with a upper tougher than fabric, particularly if you plan to do a course beyond novice level. If you plan to do an advanced course, you will likely spend significant time off trail. Covering your lower legs with outdoor pants or even gaiters will protect you from scratches.
- It's Florida. Bring sun screen and bug spray as appropriate.
- DO NOT FORGET TO BRING WATER. Each competitor is expected to carry their own water or to be sufficiently hydrated before competing. And let’s not kid ourselves about this hydrating thing: Plan on carrying your own water even though it’s an option, because if you become lost or disoriented, you may be spending more time out there than you planned. Stay hydrated. It may be warm and there will be no water on the courses. Carrying a little extra can also let you be a hero to someone else who didn't plan ahead as well as you did.
- When registering a group, make sure you tell us the exact number of people who will be in that group. FLO absolutely needs to know how many people are in each group and what the individual names are. Do not treat this as a choice; this is a safety issue. We hope never to use this information as part of a Search & Rescue effort, but if it is neglected and a search becomes necessary, you can appreciate how vital it may be.
- The Safety Bearing for all courses will always be PRINTED ON YOUR MAP, and will generally lead to a road or fence that will guide you back to the finish.
- If you become severely lost or injured, or lose your map and/or compass: If you are at a control, stay there until help arrives. Bail out to the Safety Bearing ONLY if you are CERTAIN you now know which way is the way back.
- Carry a whistle and know how to use it: If in trouble, give 3 short blasts on the whistle, and repeat every few minutes until found. If you hear another wistle answer back (single blast), respond with your 3 blasts every time they signal so they can home in on you.
- If you have a smartphone, carry it with you and use the Livelox app to record your hike (see info below). With Livelox and cell signal, event staff can monitor your position and movements in real time, which is VERY handy if you should become lost.
- An emergency contact number will also be printed on your map. If you get in trouble or see someone else who is, call in for help.
- At some of our venues, there may be horse trails with riders on horseback. Running toward or past a horse can spook it, leading to highly unfortunate events (or at the very least, angry riders who will complain to park officials). If you encounter horses, STOP RUNNING, yield right-of-way, and be courteous. Play nice in the sandbox.
PLEASE VOLUNTEER WITH US!
Florida Orienteering is a non-profit entity and our entire operation runs on the efforts of volunteers - people who love the sport, love the outdoors, and love sharing the experience of enjoying Florida's unique and beautiful natural spaces. We are always on the lookout for new friends who share these interests and are willing to help - so if you have some time to share, please volunteer!
We always need people to help out at every event - even an hour or two really helps. We will train any skills needed. Possible duties include setup or take-down, registration, start table, finish table, Livelox monitoring, and control retrieval (starting at 3pm).
Contact the event coordinator listed above or email Blaik at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let them know you can volunteer for a few hours either early (9:00 to noon) or late (noon-3:00), and whether there is anything in particular you’d like to do.
SPECIAL NOTE - Volunteering for Control Retrieval at the end of the event is one of the best ways to learn the skill of navigation! Adventure Racers and JROTC Cadets, especially the AR’s who like to run two or three courses, should consider Retrieval as an alternative training exercise.
SportIdent “e-punch” timing is now the required method of timing at all FLO events. In addition to providing more information about your course, it also lightens the workload of accurate record-keeping, scoring, tracking, and results posting for FLO event staff and volunteers. If you don’t own an e-punch finger stick, one can be easily rented for $3 at registration. E-punch sticks can also be purchased for $30 (or $27 after rental) and used at orienteering events worldwide. For more information on e-punch timing see the intro video linked below:
Training Video on “E-Punch” Timing & Finger Sticks: